LONDON (Aug. 2)
A split in the Arab world continued to widen today over acceptance of the U.S. peace proposals. Algeria announced at the last minute that it would not participate in a meeting of Arab foreign ministers and defense chiefs scheduled to open tonight in Tripoli, Libya. Earlier Algeria indicated that it would send a delegation. Iraq and Syria, which also had planned to participate declared later that they would not. The meeting was called to create Arab unity behind Egyptian diplomatic efforts. President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan have accepted the American peace initiative. Iraq is vehemently opposed to a peaceful settlement with Israel. Syria alone among the 1967 combatants has refused to accept the United Nations Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution. Both Syria and Iraq are governed by militant left wing Baathist parties. In Jordan, where the guerrillas are strongest and most influential, Foreign Minister Anton Attallah put a damper on peace efforts Friday when Israel’s acceptance of the American initiative was announced. He said the U.S. peace effort was “still-born” because of Israel’s reply.
According to Mr. Attallah, the tone of Israel’s response indicated that it was conditional and that Israel did not intend to withdraw from the Arab territories it occupied in the June. 1967 war. “If this is what is meant by the Israeli announcement, this attitude will create great difficulties in the way of achieving a just peace in the Middle East.” the Jordanian official said. Iraq’s ruling Baath party was roundly denounced yesterday by the Soviet Union for its opposition to Pres. Nasser’s acceptance of the U.S. plan. An editorial in Pravda, the official Soviet Communist Party newspaper, termed this opposition as incomprehensible and as leading to a weakening of the Arab effort to regain territory occupied by Israel. Diplomats here expressed belief that the Soviet Union, trying to shore up a faltering economy at home and fearful of a confrontation with the U.S., is seeking to rally support for Pres. Nasser among the Arab states. A Soviet foreign affairs weekly. Za Rubezhom, stated the money spent on military budgets could be better used for economic and cultural construction. Due to this, the weekly state, “progressive states” are seeking a peaceful settlement. It was also critical of those Palestinians who insist that a solution of the Palestine refugee problem requires the elimination of Israel.